2013 Blackhawks Report Cards: Niklas Hjalmarsson

Jamie Squire

Tuesday's report card belongs to everybody's favorite Ikea spokesman, Niklas Hjamarsson.

Standard Regular Season Stats

GP G A PTS GC +/- PIM EV PP SH GW EV SH PP S S% TOI ATOI
46 2 8 10 3 15 22 2 0 0 0 8 0 0 43 4.7 962 20:54

Advanced Regular Season Stats (5 on 5)

TOI G A FirstA Points Shots iFenwick iCorsi ShPct G/60 A/60 FirstA/60 Points/60 Shots/60 iFenwick/60 iCorsi/60 IGP IAP IPP
786:44:00 2 7 3 9 40 58 90 5 0.152 0.534 0.229 0.69 3.05 4.423 6.864 5.4 18.9 24.3

Standard Playoff Stats

GP G A PTS GC +/- PIM EV PP SH GW S S% TOI ATOI
23 0 5 5 1 10 4 0 0 0 0 12 0 535 23:15

Advanced Playoff Stats (5 on 5)

GP TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi QoC Corsi Relative Corsi On On-Ice Sh% On-Ice Sv% PDO Pens Taken/60 Pens Drawn/60 Off Zone Start % Off Zone Finish %
23 19.18 0.961 -3.327 -6.2 7.48 8.77 936 1024 0.1 0.4 47.2 50.3

From start to finish, I would argue that Niklas Hjalmarsson was the Hawks' best defenseman this season. Building on what was a good rebound year last season, Hjalmarsson posted a career highs in plus-minus (+15) and average ice time of (20:54 per game). He had good Corsi numbers when you consider the fact that he was consistently given the toughest matchups and he had good offensive output relative to the number of games he played.

But Hjalmarsson's season isn't so easily described in statistics. It was the little things he did on the ice this season that made such a huge difference in his play. Positionally he was better than in years past and appeared better at reading plays, particularly down low. He appeared more calm and patient with the puck, waiting for a lane to open up or sometimes skating it out himself, something we haven't really seen Hammer do in the past. He was more physical and more willing to take hits to make outlet passes rather than the standard firing of the puck around the boards.

As per usual Hjalmarsson blocked a ton of shots (94 in 48 games, 22nd most in the league) and he was a huge contributor to the success of the penalty kill. In the playoffs, Hammer took on some of the toughest matchups and managed to win them, particularly in the Stanley Cup Final. He wasn't always spectacular but then again he didn't need to be with #2 and #7 playing out of their minds. It wasn't a flawless season by Hammer. There were moments when he fell into the same bad habits that have plagued him past years, but there were more than enough good moments to make up for them. With another Stanley Cup championship in the books, and Hjalmarsson being a big part of it, one could argue that Hjalmarsson has cemented his place into the often mentioned "core" group of Blackhawk players. Hjalmarsson finally appears to be emerging as the premier defenseman the Hawks have been hoping he'd turn into. He has one year remaining on his contract at $3.5 million and most likely factors into the Hawks plans going forward.

Final Grade: A

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